Dallas Stars vs. Nashville Predators Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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Just as the Dallas Stars are on the verge of getting one key player back from injury, they will be without another when they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen collided with his own goalie, Scott Wedgewood, on Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche and left with an apparent knee injury early in the third period.

Heiskanen, the team’s leading scorer among defensemen, did not return to witness the Stars blow a 4-2 lead with just over 10 minutes left and ultimately lose 5-4 in overtime.

Coach Pete DeBoer said after practice Friday that Heiskanen was going through medical tests and the lower-body injury wasn’t season-ending and didn’t require surgery, but his availability was “week to week.”

“He’s a huge piece of the team, we know that,” Dallas forward Joe Pavelski said of Heiskanen on Thursday night.

Dallas has already been without No. 1 goalie Jake Oettinger since he sustained a lower-body injury in a 5-4 win against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 15.

Oettinger, who was named to the All-Star Game on Thursday, took part in the morning skate prior to the game against the Avalanche and was upgraded to day-to-day, signaling he’s very close to returning, perhaps as soon as Saturday.

The Stars still believe they deserved a better fate against Colorado, despite losing Heiskanen and playing without their No. 1 goalie.

Dallas also blew a three-goal lead against the Avalanche on Nov. 18 and lost 6-3.

“We did a lot of good things,” DeBoer said of the game on Thursday. “We had the game on our stick a bunch of times down the stretch, including with the empty net to finish it off, and we didn’t. It bit us in the end, so you’ve got to learn from it.

“The big lesson is that their best players and their best line had all five goals,” he continued. “We have to find a way to make sure we do a better job containing them, and in games like this, your best players have to be your best players. Their guys were better than ours tonight.”

The Predators are also coming off a disappointing loss on Thursday.

Nashville had won two straight entering its game against the visiting Calgary Flames but blew any momentum by allowing four goals in the first period of the eventual 6-3 loss.

“We can’t just win one or two and go back to a loss,” Predators defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “Against this kind of opponent, who is right on our heels, we talked about the importance of getting some points here. Definitely a missed opportunity.”

The game against the Stars brings even more importance as both teams battle it out in the Central Division. Dallas enters the game in third place in the division with 49 points (22-10-5), while the Predators are in fourth with 43 (21-17-1).

It’s also the second of three meetings between the teams in a span of 20 days.

In their first head-to-head on Dec. 23, the Stars erased a two-goal deficit to start the third period and won 3-2 on a goal by Jani Hakanpaa with four seconds left.

The teams also return to Dallas for a meeting on Jan. 12.

Nashville forward Gustav Nyquist enters the game riding a seven-game point streak (five goals, five assists).

–Field Level Media

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